Toronto Maple Leafs (6-5-3) at Pittsburgh Penguins (9-3-2)
PPG Paints Arena
7:00 PM EST – ROOT Sports
When Connor McDavid came to town earlier this week, it was billed as a marquee matchup between two generational superstars, who may someday be jousting for position atop the NHL as the face who runs the place. About that. So far to start this season, Sidney Crosby has all but proven he isn’t relinquishing that title anytime soon.
Enter Auston Matthews. The Leafs first overall pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft — the 19-year-old Next Big Thing the Leafs went ahead and Oiler-d away from Arizona. The player who is supposed to change the landscape of Toronto hockey. The player the Toronto media will, undoubtedly, be trying to compare to Crosby again tonight. Too bad he’s about five years away from being anywhere near that conversation.
Matthews is okay. He has 12 points in 14 games. He had that breakout, 4-goal effort in his first ever NHL game. He has some obvious talent — not quite Trash, dude. But he’s not ready for the expectations the Toronto media will immediately be putting on him, which should be wonderful to watch transgress over the next few years.
It’s nothing against Matthews, really. This is more about the media there and how they fancy themselves as the Know Everythings of the NHL. These people are, mostly, all idiots. They’ve already written hundreds of articles about Matthews basically being the Savior of hockey; can’t wait until next year when they’re questioning his work ethic. Or in two years when his love life is distracting him. Or in three years when someone sees him at a gyro stand. These people literally posted videos of themselves dancing when the Leafs lucked into the money ball to pick him first. Mark my words: If they danced for him, they will turn on him.
And the best part is it’s already starting. Matthews has gone goalless in his last eight games with just two assists to show for it. They were blown out in a 7-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday. They did bounce back with a 6-3 win over the Flyers last night, but…Flyers. Right now the Toronto media is making excuses for him, and that’s just the first step. Step two comes when they’re losing and he smiles on the bench or something. Sounds crazy now, but we know how this goes.
But yeah, before we get to all that, they’re going to try to compare him to Crosby. Crosby will say all the right things — he always does — but tonight’s matchup between the two should go something like this:
The guy doesn’t even belong in the same ring.
- White jerseys tonight because the Penguins are the gift that just keeps giving.
- Leafs played last night. They’re 0-1 in back-to-backs this season, they went 4-10-1 in the second half of back-to-backs last season.
- Pens gave up 40 shots to the Wild Thursday night after a track meet with the Oilers Tuesday. Expect them to tone it down a notch tonight.